Whether this is by purchasing a Christmas present for your pet, making sure you spend Christmas day together, or by preparing a Christmas dinner for them to enjoy, it’s clear pets have an important part to play in the festive fun.
Buying your pet the perfect gift
Wamiz recently carried out a survey to find out if British pet owners planned on spoiling their pets this year. And the answer is - in a word - yes! Of 610 UK pet owners surveyed, 79% answered that they would get their cat or dog a gift for Christmas this year. More impressive still, 1 in 2 pets will also get a present from the owner’s family and friends.
For both cats and dogs, the most popular choice of gift is toys! Toys are a great present idea for dynamic pets that need to stay mentally and physically active. Chew toys, tug toys, and food puzzle/dispenser toys are always a crowd favourite when it comes to our canine pals, while cats will love any toy that they can chase, especially if these are decorated with feathers!
The second most popular choice of gift for both cats and dogs were treats! When it comes to food, your pets are likely going to be happy with anything, however, make sure you keep the amounts of treats you are feeding them reasonable and within their dietary plan.
The third most popular choice of gift for dogs was a new dog bed! Make sure you choose a comfortable bed that your dog can stretch out in completely. Short-haired dogs that suffer from the cold also love pita beds that they can bury themselves into during the cold winter months. For cats, the third most popular gift choice was a scratching post. Scratching is a very natural behaviour for cats, so if you don’t have one in your home yet, this will not only be a perfect gift for your little feline, but also for you and your beloved furniture!
The majority of UK pet owners will be spending less than £10 on their pet’s gift. However, 36% of responders said they would probably spend between £10 and £30, 12% said they would spend between £30 and £50, and 8% even affirmed they would spend over £50 on their pet’s gift. Either way, price doesn’t matter! All that matters is that tail wag or purr!
Spending Christmas day together, and making it stress-free
Christmas eve and day is usually spent at home with family. However, some people travel to other people’s homes, go on holiday or simply to a restaurant for Christmas. No matter what the choice of location, our survey revealed that 96% of owners would be spending Christmas day with their pet. If this is the case, make sure your pets have access to their own space during the celebrations. This should be a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle where they can find some peace and quiet if they so wish. Make sure any young children in your home know not to disturb your pets if they’re trying to isolate themselves.
If you’re going out for Christmas and won’t be too long, it might be less stressful for your pets to stay at home.
2 in 3 owners responding to our survey also said they would be cooking a special meal for their pet to enjoy during the Christmas celebrations. If this is the case, make sure all the foods that go into the meal are pet safe, and that the portion sizes remain reasonable. On the same note, make sure all human foods are out of reach from your curious pets. Christmas would be a lot less enjoyable if you had to clean up your pooch’s mess after an upset stomach!
Getting a pet for Christmas
It may seem tempting to get a cat or dog as a Christmas gift for someone. After all, that’s what they’ve always wanted - what better present could you get them?
However, getting a pet should be a well-thought through decision. Pets are 10-20 years of commitment to daily exercise, vet care, and training to name a few. PDSA revealed that 24% of owners admitted that owning a pet was harder work than they’d thought. Because of this, half a million pets in the UK have no preventive healthcare at all, and 2.3 million dogs are left alone for more than 5 hours on a weekday. This is no life for a pet, and unfortunately, can also be a root cause for many health and behaviour issues.
Pets are clearly not an option for impulse purchases. Sadly, online searches for puppies increase by a shocking 44% in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This is followed every year by UK shelters being inundated with surrendered or abandoned dogs and cats after the celebrations are over and the novelty has worn off. In 2017, the RSPCA said 3 pets were abandoned every hour during the ‘festive season’.
Most European shelters today strongly advise against getting a pet for Christmas. In fact, the biggest shelter in Europe, Berlin’s Bremin, has completely banned the adoption of their pets from the 18th of December and until the New Year. This is also because the Christmas period is one that is full of commotion and can feel quite chaotic for a cat or dog. Arriving in a new home is scary enough, let alone having to deal with excited children, strangers coming to visit, and lots of bright lights.
If someone in your family is aching for a cat or dog, why not offer them a detailed book about raising a pet so they can get started on their research instead? When they’re truly ready to take in an animal, you can do so as a family at a more convenient time of the year. Remember to always choose a reputable breeder or rescue centre. Never go looking for a pet online!